Former President Bill Clinton today penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, disavowing the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act that he signed into law 17 years ago.
It’s a typically cynical, desperate bid to rewrite history.
Clinton now suggests that his support for DOMA was really intended to thwart a constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage equality for a generation or more.
The truth is that Clinton said at the time that he “had long agreed with the principles in the bill but hoped it would not be used to justify discrimination against homosexuals,” according to the New York Times. Of course, the point of DOMA was to discriminate. What’s worse, Clinton bragged about his support for DOMA in radio ads during his 1996 re-election campaign against former Sen. Bob Dole, after criticizing Republicans for “gay-baiting.” In the same ads currying support among Christian conservatives, Clinton announced his newfound support for abortion restrictions.
Nearly a year after President Obama’s courageous endorsement of marriage equality, Clinton chimes in from the safe confines of retirement. Meanwhile, Hillary, still adored by legions of gay fans waiting breathlessly for 2016, has yet to utter a word about marriage.
Clinton’s op-ed is a naked attempt to get on the right side of history before the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA. He sounds desperate, highlighting the fact that “DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.” That only makes his support worse — at least 81 other politicians at the time had the sense and foresight to oppose the discriminatory measure. The op-ed, of course, contains no apology from Clinton for enacting the most hideous piece of anti-gay legislation ever conceived in this country. DOMA has literally destroyed the lives of countless couples — from the financial ruin triggered when a surviving partner is faced with crippling tax bills to the separation of thousands of bi-national couples forced to choose between love and country.
But never mind all those ruined lives. Clinton was just trying to spare us a constitutional amendment. Cue the parade of gay rights advocates, who will commence tripping over themselves to praise Clinton’s bold stance for equality. HRC’s Chad Griffin has already called Clinton’s op-ed “eloquent.”
If we’re going to so easily forgive and forget Clinton’s anti-gay sins, then our advocates should be consistent and shower former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman with similar praise and awards. As horrible as Mehlman’s record is, at least no one ever elected him president; and he’s been working hard to raise money for marriage equality since coming out of the closet and repudiating his own dirty deeds.
This warm-and-fuzzy new era of gay love is gratifying for those of us who’ve been working for change for years and decades. And although we should welcome converts to the cause, we must not forget the past or rewrite the ugly history that relegated LGBT people to second-class status. Clinton represents cynicism and politics at its most self-aggrandizing. Obama is the real deal — the president who is leading Americans to a true revolution in thinking on LGBT equality.